Democracy Collaborative co-founder Gar Alperovitz talks about how the democratic economy is coming into being during an October 2021 interview with Andrew Van Wagner, who has interviewed a number of leading thinkers for his Substack newsletter.
In the interview, Alperovitz points out that elements of an emergent democratic economy can be seen in the rise of cooperatives, community land trusts, worker-owned businesses, public banks, and other experimental forms of community ownership and control. “The challenge is to start to integrate these ideas—that have developed over the past 30 years—in order to have large-scale impact, rebuild communities, and ultimately rebuild the whole system. We publish a lot about how people’s successes at the community level lay the groundwork for a whole new system that’s very interesting and very practical and very American, but also very democratically owned.”
When asked how he would recommend people get involved in advancing this systemic change, he said:
“There’s an enormous amount going on around the country—you can look at our website and other organizations’ websites and see tons of things that people are actually doing and that you could also do in your community.
“I see lots of local developmental things, and there’s informal cooperation—I don’t see it as an organized national effort yet, but I think you’ll see national organizational efforts in the future.
“And how it really works is how the women’s movement worked in the 1960s—six friends get together and get some pizza and some beer. And you look at some websites and say: ‘What’s being done in other neighborhoods and other communities that the six of us could actually start right here?’ And you begin to figure out what you could do: “If they’re doing it there, why can’t we do it here?” And then something happens, and then it’s not abstract anymore.
“That’s how things actually happen—Bob Moses recently died and there’s a case where a whole movement eventually came out of the fact that half a dozen SNCC people got together and said: ‘Let’s do something. ’”